> Skip to content
  • Published: 16 June 2016
  • ISBN: 9780141929279
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 550
Categories:

Somme

Into the Breach




An extraordinary and fresh account of the most famous battle in World War One

No conflict better encapsulates all that went wrong on the Western Front than the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The tragic loss of life and stoic endurance by troops who walked towards their death is an iconic image which will be hard to ignore during the centennial year.

Despite this, this book shows the extent to which the Allied armies were in fact able repeatedly to break through the German front lines. The author has uncovered some remarkable stories, as yet unknown, of action and heroism in the face of battle. He weaves in these first-hand experiences, creating a remarkable portrait of life at the Front.

  • Published: 16 June 2016
  • ISBN: 9780141929279
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 550
Categories:

About the author

Lyn MacDonald

Over the past twenty years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are They Called It Passchendaele, an account of the Passchendaele campaign in 1917; The Roses of No Man's Land, a chronicle of the war from the neglected viewpoint of the casualties and the medical teams who struggled to save them; Somme, a history of the legendary and horrifying battle that has haunted the minds of succeeding generations; 1914, a vivid account of the first months of the war and winner of the 1987 Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award; 1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War, an illuminating account of the many different aspects of the war; and 1915: The Death of Innocence, a brilliant evocation of the year that saw the terrible losses of Aubers Ridge, Loos, Neuve Chapelle, Ypres and Gallipoli.

Her most recent book, To the Last Man: Spring 1918, has been published by Viking. All are based on the accounts of eyewitnesses and survivors, told in their own words, and cast a unique light on the First World War. 

Also by Lyn MacDonald

See all

Praise for Somme

Magisterial, exemplary, heartbreaking. So original is the material, and so inventive is Sebag-Montefiore's approach . . . that this well-known tale is rendered strange again. Written with great style and sensitivity, superbly illustrated with many original plates and beautifully drawn maps, Sebag-Montefiore's brilliant new study will set the benchmark for a generation

Saul David, David Telegraph

Sebag-Montefiore tells it with gusto, a remarkable attention to detail . . . The sense of confusion, anxiety, uncertainty, and intrepid courage which characterized this disastrous campaign is captured more successfully than any other existing account

Richard Overy, Daily Telegraph

A beautifully crafted, blow-by-blow account with deep insight into the lives of these diverse young men

Kirkus Reviews

In his previous book, Dunkirk, one of Sebag-Montefiore's talents as a historian is never to lose sight of the variety of individual experience. It is impossible to read this book without being stuck afresh by the ripples of mourning and anxiety spreading out from the battlefield in France

Daniel Todman, The Financial Times

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's heroes are the junior officers and the ordinary soldiers. Their voices emerge loud and clear in his pages . . . The best historians of the war have always made good use of the words written by the participants themselves, but few have done so as effectively as here

Nick Rennison, Daily Mail

The author's combination of thoughtful analysis with first-hand testimony from army soldiers, cameramen and diarists lends a gritty immediacy

Ian Thomson, Observer

Comprehensive, authoritative and meticulously researched... [Of recent publications] it is the weightiest and best written

Simon Humphrey, Mail on Sunday

A beautifully crafted, blow-by-blow account with deep insight into the lives of these diverse young men.

Kirkus Review

'A searing story. A meticulous military history and a deeply moving testimony to the extraordinary bravery of individual soldiers.' (About Dunkirk)

The Times

Comprehensive, authoritative and meticulously researched... [Of recent publications] it is the weightiest and best written.

Simon Humphrey, Mail on Sunday

Having read almost everything that has been written on this battle, I can vouch this is the best account yet.

Gerard DeGroot, The Times

High Sebag-Montefiore's magisterial Somme is the fruit of eight years' labour and it shows. He draws on previously unpublished sources from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Germany to reconstruct the story of the tragic battle in almost forensic detail. So original is the material, and so inventive is Sebag-Montefiore's approach -- telling each stage of the fight from the perspective of both the combatants and their families back home -- that this well-known tale is rendered strange again. But if Sebag-Montefiore's use of first-hand accounts is exemplary, so too is his historical judgement... Written with great style and sensitivity, superbly illustrated with many original plates and beautifully drawn maps, Sebag-Montefiore's brilliant new study will set the benchmark for a generation.

Saul David, The Telegraph

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's heroes are the junior officers and the ordinary soldiers. Their voices emerge loud and clear in his pages. The best historians of the war have always made good use of the words written by the participants themselves, but few have done so as effectively as here.

Nick Rennison, Daily Mail

Sebag-Montefiore tells it with gusto, a remarkable attention to detail... The sense of confusion, anxiety, uncertainty, and intrepid courage which characterized this disastrous campaign is captured more successfully than any other existing account.

Richard Overy, Daily Telegraph

Several fine books have been written about "the miracle of Dunkirk", but none better than this. (About Dunkirk)

Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

The author puts the focus squarely on the soldiers. His talent as a historian is never to lose sight of the variety of individual experience. In his previous book, Dunkirk, one of Sebag-Montefiore's talents as a historian is never to lose sight of the variety of individual experience. It is impossible to read this book without being stuck afresh by the ripples of mourning and anxiety spreading out from the battlefield in France.

Daniel Todman, The Financial Times

The author's combination of thoughtful analysis with first-hand testimony from army soldiers, cameramen and diarists lends a gritty immediacy

Ian Thomson, Observer

The best new narrative of the battle thus far, reflecting his gifts for fluent prose and moving quotations.

Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

Related titles